Aquatic reserves

Eight aquatic reserves, managed by the Washington Department of Natural Resources, have been established to protect important ecosystems on state aquatic lands. In most reserves, area residents work with state, local and tribal officials and nonprofit groups to develop and carry out management plans, including scientific research. 

Location of eight aquatic reserves in Washington. Map: WA DNR

OVERVIEW

Washington state aquatic reserves

Eight aquatic reserves, managed by the Washington Department of Natural Resources, have been established to protect important ecosystems on state aquatic lands.

In most reserves, area residents work with state, local and tribal officials and nonprofit groups to develop and carry out management plans, including scientific research.

The aquatic reserves in the order they were established include: 

  • Maury Island 2004
  • Cypress Island  2007
  • Fidalgo Bay 2008
  • Cherry Point 2010
  • Protection Island 2010
  • Smith and Minor Islands 2010
  • Nisqually Reach 2011
  • Lake Kapowsin 2016

RELATED ARTICLES

Fidalgo Bay Citizen's Stewardship Committee volunteers conduct intertidal monitoring surveys during low tide at Fidalgo Bay Aquatic Reserve. Photo: Erica Bleke/DNR
6/3/2019

State aquatic reserves lean heavily on citizen scientists

Eight aquatic reserves in Puget Sound are being studied by volunteers working under the direction of state experts. Washington Department of Natural Resources manages the reserves with guidance from nearby communities.

A single sea bird floating on the water with several thin silvery fish in its beak.
10/18/2022

Whir! Chunk! Capture! The art of tagging rhinoceros auklets on Protection Island

Where do Protection Island's rhinoceros auklets go to find their food? Scientists hope GPS tags will offer new insight into the bird's still mysterious foraging behavior. Biologist and science writer Eric Wagner reports from the field. 

A downy black seabird chick nestled in the corner of a wooden box that is resting on top  of gravel.
8/29/2022

Notes from the field: The Illusion of abundance

Biologist and science writer Eric Wagner recently returned from a trip to observe pigeon guillemots on Protection Island. He wonders: How much do we really know about the health of seemingly abundant bird populations?

Rhinoceros auklets near Protection Island. Photo: Peter Hodum
12/6/2019

A health check for seabirds

Scientists are still trying to understand what caused the deaths of thousands of rhinoceros auklets in the Salish Sea in 2016. Some studies point to disease as a central factor in that incident and potentially other large seabird die-offs along the coast. That is prompting a deeper look at what makes these birds sick, and how local populations are faring. We followed a group of researchers as they gave a health checkup to a breeding colony of rhinoceros auklets on Protection Island.